Wisdom Workout


Savoring Laguna

By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez

My experiences lately have brought home how privileged I feel to be a part of life in Laguna.

It started with a leisurely dinner on a Thursday night with a friend at Watermarc that supplied the simple pleasure of catching up with each other. It is so satisfying to have a list of hometown favorite places and warm relationships with the people who run the restaurants and stores that serve this town.

One of my favorite volunteer opportunities is the Early Intervention Program sponsored and fully funded by the Laguna Beach Assistance League. One aspect of the program is rocking the infants, who were born prematurely or with Down syndrome, while their parents have sharing and instructive time with the therapists and each other.

As often as my schedule allows, you can find me happily sitting in a circle of rocking chairs for an hour or so on Wednesday mornings with a baby snuggled in my arms, visiting with the other volunteers who participate in this incredible program.

A few weeks ago, my favorite watch decided to operate on its own timeline. It’s a Hamilton that I’ve had for years and I didn’t want to give it up. I also have a Cartier with a cracked crystal that I imagined was either too far-gone or too expensive to fix.

On my next walk downtown, I headed straight for A Step Back In Time on Forest Avenue, ventured up the stairs and entered into the magical shop of Arthur Martinez, a master jeweler and designer who comes from a family of jewelers three generations deep and has more than 40 years of experience in the jewelry industry. He brought my Hamilton back to life, sent the other watch to be restored and it was, once again, a wonderful experience of our village and all the talent that surrounds us.

Pure delight washed over me as I savored the experience of being surrounded by vintage watches, exquisite jewelry and the rhythmic ticking of a chorus of antique grandfather clocks.

Next came an interaction with two little girls, identical twins about 5, who were on either side of their mother’s shopping cart in Whole Foods. I opened the conversation by saying: “Where did you find two matching little girls?” Their mother laughed and said: “At the two-for-one special!” “What aisle can I find little girls in?” I asked. The girls looked at each other and than one said very seriously and clearly: “You can’t buy girls in here because we were BORN!” she explained, as her sister nodded in agreement. “Oh, I get it now!” I answered, as they gave me a pleased and relieved smile, waving goodbye as they left the store.

I believe it is important to establish a working relationship between our responsibilities and privileges. Too many responsibilities without the acknowledgment and appreciation of the privileges we have can create a “life is hard and then you die” mental rigidity that takes the sparkle from our eyes. This mental severity leaves us feeling parched and dried up instead of engaged and able to cherish our lives just as they are.

Some say that working hard and playing hard are the keys to a fulfilling life. When I approach anything I do, whether it is work or leisure, with a too tight hold on the outcomes, it leaves me devoid of the ability to truly enjoy the nuances and subtle surprises that life can generously offer.

There are many local opportunities available when we allow ourselves to become open and receptive to the simple pleasures that surround us.

Susan is a local author and group facilitator who has lived in town since 1986. susanvelasquez.com




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